Monday, May 30, 2011

The Soldier On the Square.

Here in the South, as most of you know, it's common for a town with a square to have a Confederate memorial of some kind in said town square. Franklin, Tennessee is no exception - it was the site of one of the most devastating Civil War battles in Tennessee. I've passed that soldier a million times. One day it dawned on me that he wasn't just a Confederate soldier, but more of an Everyman, at least to me.

He's every untrained backwoods militia man who died fighting for our independence from the British. He's my Union ancestor, John B. Feather, who died at Andersonville in 1864 at the age of 19, a time when he should have been smoking cigars, drinking whiskey, and chasing pretty girls. He's every Doughboy who lost his life in the Great War. He's every soldier who fought at Normandy, and every sailor on the USS Arizona. He's every 19 year-old who died in the jungles of Vietnam. He's every man and woman who's died in Afghanistan and Iran in the service of the United States.

That's what I think of now when I drive by that monument: not just the carnage of 1864, but all the American lives lost in service to their country. I hope that this Memorial Day, you will remember them all.

Till next time ---

Friday, May 20, 2011

Walking the Dog.

I like walking the dog - he and I both need the exercise - but I'm beginning to wonder if it's worth it.

This morning, on the way out, a fairly large dog barked at us from his porch. He was not leashed or confined. I hoped he wouldn't just charge. We kept walking, Sampson barked once and stopped, and while the other dog took a few steps down onto the side walk, he stayed in his own yard. No problem.

On the way back, the first dog had been taken back into his garage. Sampson and I trotted along quite merrily without a care in the world. I saw a little Shih-Tzu-type dog in a yard up ahead, but didn't really think anything about it - till we passed the house.

That tiny dog, who probably weighed all of 3 pounds, ran across the yard, across the street, and down the sidewalk after my 98-pound doofus, yapping all the while. Sampson started flailing around, like he does when he's excited, and I just tried to keep walking, thinking the little dog would eventually give up and stop. Sampson was making his squealy noise, not his aggressive "get away from me" bark, so I didn't think the little dog was in any danger from Sampson, but dogs are still dogs after all, and I wasn't going to take any chances.

Little Dog kept up the sidewalk after us. A lady still in her nightgown started running up the sidewalk after it. "Please get your dog on a leash!" I shouted. I don't think she heard me.

We kept walking, Sampson kept flailing, and the little dog was STILL trailing after us. I said, okay, that dog's just going to keep it up till we stop. I made Sampson sit, the little dog stopped, and the owner was able to get hold of her charge - across the street and 3-4 houses down from her own place.

"Please don't let your dog run around loose like that," I said.

"I didn't know y'all was out here," she said.

"It doesn't matter," I said. "Your dog could have run out and been hit by a car." This is a well-populated subdivision with cars going in and out all the time.

"Oh, she would never do that."

Really? Obviously she just did. I said something else; I don't really remember what it was, and it wouldn't have made any difference anyway, because clearly this lady was delusional about her dog's behavior. This time there was no harm, no foul, but what about next time?

I don't want there to be a next time. I want my outings with my dog to be pleasant without the threat of being charged by someone else's loose dog. And this isn't the first time this has happened - years ago, Mister and I were walking the two dogs we had at the time, both on the medium-to-large size, and we were charged by a Min-Pin down the street, who was literally nipping at my Elkhound's ankles. I was shocked and amazed that Zenith didn't rip its little head clean off.

Now friends, I know it's tempting to think your pets are safe going out for a pee loose and unattended in your own yard. And in some places, they probably are. But in a closely populated area with lots of other people and dogs and cars, not to mention the hawks and owls, it's probably not a good idea.

So, till next time - spay and neuter your pets, and make sure they're safe when they go out. They depend on you to take good care of them.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Search Continues.

So, I have been unemployed now for almost a month. I can't even tell you how many jobs I've applied for. I had one interview for a one-year grant-funded position with a $9000 pay cut. I signed up with a temp agency who hasn't called me with any assignments. The university I graduated from twice won't call me for an interview for love nor money. I do have an interview this Friday (yes, Friday the 13th) with a data research company.

I've discovered, of course, that the job search world has changed immensely in the last 15 years, and that the "experts" provide conflicting information. Dumb down your resume, because if you have an advanced degree, people think you won't stick around. (Really? Even if I was at my last job for 15 years?) Don't dumb down your resume, because your education is important. Don't include any dates that might allude to your age if you're over 40. (Never mind that age discrimination is illegal.) Call the company. Don't call the company. Go visit in person. Don't go visit in person.

You can see how a prospective employee might get easily confused.

I grew up during a time when the prevailing philosophy was "get a job, stick with it till you retire, and you'll be rewarded for your loyalty and dedication." That's just not true anymore. I visited with a career counselor a week ago and he said they're now telling people to be prepared to have 4-6 different jobs during their careers and 3-4 different career paths. Well, all righty then. That would be great if I were just getting out of college, but I'm 43 years old. How many other career paths can I expect?

I've also noticed that nearly everyone wants a background check and a drug test. The background check I can deal with, but the pre-employment drug test? I'm not crazy about that. I don't have anything to hide - I'm a real goody two-shoes where that's concerned - but it's the principle of the thing. I feel like it is a violation of my 4th Amendment right against unreasonable search & seizure. Why would you ask someone for evidence of wrongdoing without just cause? Isn't that against our philosophy of innocent till proven guilty? They're assuming I might be guilty and I have to prove myself innocent. Not only that, I'm not real crazy about having to discuss any medications I do take with anyone other than my healthcare professional. That's just not anyone's business.

But apparently that's the way of the world now. If you want a job, you have to take a drug test, whether it's relevant to the actual job description or not. So be it. If that's what they want, I'll do it, but I don't have to like it.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying taking Sampson the Giant Puppy for walks, and having naps in the afternoon. But I do want to go back to work. I have bills to pay, and the dog has to eat. I have to eat. Maybe, if a miracle occurs, I can finally get the clutter in my house under control.

Or not.

Till next time ---